Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park will become a major focus for economic, health and social regeneration next year.
Despite the Coronavirus pandemic, major steps have been made over the last 12 months to create a strong springboard for delivery in 2021.
Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park Project Lead and former Government Minister, Richard Caborn said: “This year has seen us be amongst the pioneers of an economic and health revolution so needed right now, translating ideas and innovation into industrialisation and commercialisation.
“We are well ahead of the game and are at the heart of Sheffield’s post-pandemic road to recovery. We are already attracting national and international Governmental interest and firmly believe our model should be used to shape our post-Covid future.
“We are bringing economic regeneration to Sheffield’s East End, despite the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park is effectively and innovatively delivering a vision of tangible legacy from the London 2012 Olympics,” added Mr Caborn.
Sheffield has the world’s only Olympic Legacy Park outside a host city. It was set up after the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to deliver whole population improvements in health and wellbeing.
Bringing together expertise from academia, elite sport, the NHS, and public and private sector organisations, Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park is creating a cluster of life sciences assets including research centres, business incubators, educational facilities and laboratories for collaborative research and innovation in health and wellbeing.
Mr Caborn added: “In what has been a very difficult year, we have brought jobs and investment to the region, whilst driving new research into the health of populations across the world, as well as our own communities,” added Mr Caborn.
The Park, which will cover over 1 million sq. ft. of real estate when complete, is proving a catalyst for investment and regeneration and an integral part of Sheffield City Region’s Strategic Economic Plan.
During the last 12 months, Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park has seen the opening of Sheffield Hallam University’s £14m Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC).
The AWRC features world-class facilities for multi-disciplinary researchers to carry out research on health and physical activity in collaboration with the private sector, charities and the community, with a focus on taking services and products from concept to market.
In April, the AWRC launched its £900,000 Wellbeing Accelerator programme and has supported 24 start-up businesses from across the world to develop health and wellbeing technologies and applications. Over 70 business, academic and health experts from Sheffield City Region and beyond have been recruited as mentors.
A dedicated research and innovation unit to support people to recover and rehabilitate from Covid-19 has also been set-up at the AWRC, which will help address the long-term challenge of population health and wellbeing in the wake of the pandemic.
The success of the AWRC is providing a catalyst for further developments on Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park. Sheffield’s five Labour MPs recently wrote to the Prime Minister and Health Secretary to seek support for the building of a world-class National Centre for Child Health Technology (CCHT).
The first of a kind, the CCHT, led by Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, has the backing of international companies including IBM, Canon Medical, and Philips,. When built, it will operate alongside the AWRC.
The local community is also continuing to benefit from the educational, health and sporting legacy projects on the Park.
Earlier in the year, UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park secured national recognition as one of the highest performing schools in England for technical learning. UTC Principal, Jess Stevenson, praised her students for their dignity and resilience throughout a challenging academic year as they received A level and GCSE results.
In July, the Chief Executive of the not-for-profit Darnall Well Being community organisation was appointed to the Board of Directors at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park. Lucy Melleney is helping capture a local community perspective, working with the Board to deliver one of its key Olympic legacy objectives – to provide local people with significant improvements in health, wellbeing, education, skills, training, and job opportunities and to contribute to the economic regeneration of the local area.
The Olympics have continued to play an important role with scores of potential Olympians, Paralympians, and their support teams, all using the facilities at the English Institute of Sport Sheffield in their aim for Olympic glory in Tokyo next year.
The re-opening of the 3G pitch after Covid closures was celebrated – twice. Local community football clubs such as Darnall FA, will sit alongside the oldest football club in the world, Sheffield FC, and Rugby League team Sheffield Eagles, for training and matches.
In recognising the role of Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park in the Government’s levelling-up agenda, Penistone and Stocksbridge Conservative MP Miriam Cates, said: “The work of the Park clearly demonstrates the importance of the North to the advancement of science, technology and research in critical areas such as health and wellbeing.”
The next 12 months promise to be just as exciting with further major developments due to emerge.